Go-Go: The Heart of DC

“Go-go music within itself is derived from the culture of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and what it stems from is the grooves—the Afrocentric grooves—that really encompasses the mind and the soul and the body,” says Nico Hobson, founder and president of GoWin Media, a D.C.-area music promotion and internet radio company.

The “Grandfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown, described the music as “a hypnotically danceable genre deeply rooted in funk and soul .” Go-go was at the center of a debate on culture and civility, the so-called “gentrification of silence” in spring 2019 with the #Don’tMuteDC movement.

Since 1995, Donald Campbell, owner of the Central Communications (Metro PCS) on the corner of Georgia and Florida Avenues NW, had been blasting go-go music from 9am-11pm. But in April 2019, noise complaints from residents of newly constructed condominiums filed noise complaints and emailed T-Mobile headquarters. T-Mobile told Campbell to “tone it down,” which ultimately led to Campbell turning off the music. 

On April 8, Howard University senior Julien Broomfield coined the #Don’tMuteDC hashtag and a petition started by cultural scholar Natalie Hopkinson and peace activist Ronald Moten drew more than 80,000 signatures. The

In May 2020, the DC City Council recognized go-go as the official music of Washington DC. In April 2021, the Kennedy Center hosted a celebration of go-go in its Don’t Mute DC Festival.

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